GENEVA -- Despite a strong euro that has plagued European automakers, Volkswagen AG will not decontent its vehicles to make them competitive in the United States.
Customers won't buy Volkswagen vehicles without features such as antilock brakes, said company Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder.
"I don't think cars become more competitive when they are decontented," Pischetsrieder said. "You can't have a Passat without antilock brakes."
The new Passat features items such as electronic parking brakes, adaptive cruise control and a Bluetooth phone system.
Audi AG has adopted the same strategy: offer vehicles packed with features.
"It is very difficult to decontent an Audi," said Audi Chairman Martin Winterkorn. "It is very difficult to sell an Audi without ESP (electronic stability program) and Quattro."
Volkswagen Group is trying to regain sales momentum in North America with a wave of new products that include the Passat and VW Jetta and Audi A3 and Q7. But it will be hampered by a euro worth more than $1.30.
The redesigned Passat will be critical to struggling Volkswagen's U.S. success. It features VW's new face with a bold chrome grille and headlights that give the car what the company calls a "challenging stare." PHOTO: PHILIP MEECH
Moreover, Volkswagen is not eager to boost the Passat's sales volume by offering incentives.
"We didn't announce (sales) volumes for the Passat," Pischetsrieder said. "The first issue is that we are profitable. Volume is not an issue."
Volkswagen and Audi are evaluating their manufacturing strategies in response to the dollar's weakness.
Audi is at a disadvantage compared with German luxury competitors such as BMW AG and Mercedes-Benz because it does not make vehicles in the United States. Volkswagen produces the Jetta and New Beetle in Mexico.
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